Dieter Rams is one of the world’s greatest designers of everyday objects.
His mind, which in other eras,
might’ve been employed making sculptures for altarpieces,
or precision scales for diamond traders
is devoted to producing carefully and beautifully made
calculators, shelving, office chairs, TVs, radios, watches,
计算器 架子 办公椅 电视机 收音机 手表
record players, egg beaters, fruit juicers, video cameras, and electric shavers.
点唱机 打蛋器 果汁机 录像机和电动剃须刀上
His career has been extraordinarily successful.
The company he made famous Braun was,
when he joined, a medium-sized manufacturer of radios in Germany,
and grew to become a global titan of consumer goods production.
As head of design, Rams’s work has ended up in hundreds of millions of homes.
Why is design important?
Partly because poorly designed things slow us down and sadden us.
部分原因是 糟糕的设计拖慢我们的速度 让我们感到难过
The stapler that doesn’t work, the bag of walnuts that doesn’t open,
the TV remote control that hasn’t thought hard enough about what real people are actually like,
all are symbols of miscommunication and lack of empathy.
Rams shows us that capitalism need not produce poor quality products.
His life and work are a guide to the values
that we might make more central to our lives and our businesses.
There are 5 underlying lessons to be taken from his work.
Rams wanted to reduce everything back to just a few things that matter most.
You can see this in one of his early products, the PC3SV radio.
There are many more things which could be done with a radio.
One could add in bass and tenor control, separate AM and FM dials,
an alarm clock, an output cord for larger speakers and so on,
but Rams pushed in the opposite direction.
He made the on-off switch a part of the volume control,
which haven’t been done before, and which people argued against,
but the end result is deeply satisfying.
You have to be confident to dare to be simple
with radios or in other areas of life.
For example, in an expensive restaurant,
there’s pressure to order something elaborate,
even though deep down, we might actually just feel like ordering cheese on toast.
Being simple can make you vulnerable,
but simplicity is really an achievement.
It follows from a hard-won clarity about what matters.
When designing a toothbrush,
Rams spent weeks thinking about and experimenting
with the ratio of the handle to the bristles,
the width of the handle, the number of ridges for the thumb to grip onto, and so on.
But this large amount of work is nowhere obvious in the final product.
This follows from a principle of modesty which Rams lives by,
and which goes back to the Roman poet Horace:
“the art lies in concealing the art.”
Rams has modesty as a person.
Although he originally trained as an architect and a carpenter,
he wanted to make products that improved people’s lives,
rather than design spectacular things to promote his own glory.
The products he designed are all imbued with modesty.
They don’t try to attract your attention for no reason.
They’re happy to sit in the background and do the work.
Such modesty stems from a lack of anxiety about being ignored.
One of Rams’s principles is that an object should be easy to live with,
and so easy to encounter for the first time
that you could get rid of the instruction manuals.
Rams’s products never come with any instructions.
The object should just be obvious from the beginning.
This ability to create a welcoming experience for another person is a great skill.
Not many people can do it well, however,
because it derives from an unusual source,
remembering what it’s like to be distressed.
In his work, Rams is in touch with what it’s like to be lost,
to feel abandoned and frustrated.
Although his work looks serene,
it comes from knowing how easily we get angry and muddled,
and ashamedly confused by instructions
which any normal adult should, we feel, be able to understand.
But we’re more like simpletons than we pretend to be.
We actually want things to be easy and user-friendly,
but we don’t readily tell other people that we’re a bit stupid,
although everyone is in many ways.
Which is why it’s the job of the designer, or the hotelier or the customer feedback agent
这就是设计师 旅馆经营者 顾客反馈代理
to remember with tenderness the fact that we’re all childlike and a little bit lost.
Rams is like a parent.
He’s making the world a bit friendlier for us.
Rams is not making things for actual 6-year-olds.
Rather, he mixes insights about our childlike nature
within a context of elegance and dignity.
For example, this calculator comes with color buttons
to show you where the main functions are.
Remembering that everyone is more easily confused than they pretend to be
should be a basis for the reform of architecture, hotels, street design,
这一点应该成为建筑 酒店 街头设计
websites, car manufacturer, phone companies, and books.
网站 汽车制造 电话公司和书籍革新的基础
Rams was classic which means he tapped into things that don’t change.
This means we don’t have to buy new things all the time.
A classic book, for instance, is La Rochefoucauld’s Maxims.
It’s a classic because the essential lessons in it are still useful for us to hear,
many hundreds of years after it was written.
Overall, the global economy needs to be more classic.
The fashion industry, to take what is currently the least classic business,
could play more to our need to have items of clothing
that are versatile and dignified in many context,
and less inclined to change every passing year.
We suffer from a Romantic ideology,
which tends to emphasize and value what is new.
Rams in contrast, is interested in what is permanent.
His goal was to create products that wouldn’t go out of date so fast,
so we wouldn’t have to throw them away so rapidly.
If you cared about bringing more attention and care
to the little things of everyday life in 1650,
you might have gone into painting.
The Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer was an advocate
for paying more attention to the humble objects of everyday life.
In his famous painting The Little Street,
he portrays a life governed by simplicity and modesty.
Rams values the same things that Vermeer does,
but he’s turned these values into products that we can use in our own lives.
Design has a big advantage over art.
It’s available for everyone.
We might only be able to see Vermeer’s work once or twice every few years,
whereas Rams’s work we can buy and live with everyday.
All the intensity, focus, high standards, and the pursuit of integrity that is found in art
所有强度 焦点 高标准 以及见于艺术的对完整的追求
can be brought into the realm of everyday design.
And this is where it stands more of a chance of affecting people,
as they check the time, or press the snooze button on their alarm.
Rams shows us what good business could be,
elegant, long-lasting, dignified.
优雅 持久 尊贵的
All capitalism should be like this.
It’s a sign of a problem that Rams feels so unique.
Ideally, all entrepreneurs would study his work
and devote themselves to the values of simplicity and modesty
at the heart of his world view.
Rams’s mindset is currently very unusual.
We hope it will become mainstream and widespread.